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June 28, 2005

The lobbyists are coming! The lobbyists are coming!

[update: I'm an idiot. I've linked the Globe story now.]

... and it seems it was an inside job. Halliburton and Exelon annexed Faneuil Hall for a day:

Faneuil Hall, a national landmark for American democracy and one of the city's most popular destinations, was sealed off yesterday, to the disappointment of tourists and wanderers from the Freedom Trail. But the doors were flung open to the Republican Party's corporate donors, including representatives of Halliburton and Exelon, who held a secret huddle inside with Governor Mitt Romney and other GOP governors.

It seems that Mitt was taking special interest bucks and trading health care advice with Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri -- he of the 57% disapproval rating. Now, Gov. Blunt has dug that hole for himself in part by chucking poor people off Medicaid because he doesn't want to raise taxes. So... maybe there is a political limit to the "no new taxes", "ownership society" idolatry. We'll see when it comes to our health care discussion over the next year.


Speaking of which, on the front page of the City/Region section was a peculiar article by Scott Greenberger with two accounts of women who don't have health coverage, juxtaposed with the number of uninsured in MA (460,000) in red, and supposed facts and figures of Mitt's supposed plan -- supposed because we don't actually have any details forthcoming from the Gov. Will these two women actually be helped by the Governor's plan? Substantially? Not at all? What about the Health Access and Affordability Act? Would that be a better deal for them? TravCare?

Look, it's good to put a human face on the policy, but come on, Globe, let's start asking some tough questions.

So, I will take a stab at one of the two situations as regards HA3 -- I'm certainly open to other folks with expertise chiming in here as well:

''There really doesn't seem to be any reason why there can't be a health plan that people who work in small businesses or who are self-employed can buy through the federal government," Bullett said. [She makes $34k/year, two kids.]

From GBIO's handy Health Care Proposal Comparison sheet, HA3 will:

  • Create a “re-insurance” program that takes the most expensive cases out of the individual/small group market. Firms with up to 50 workers are eligible.
  • This program will reduce the cost of insurance for individuals and small businesses by as much as 30%, without reducing the quality of coverage or increasing co-pays/deductibles.
  • No creation of stripped-down insurance products.
  • Expands Insurance Partnership Program which subsidizes small businesses that offer health coverage to low-income employees.

So, in other words, HA3 does pool resources of small business and the uninsured, and will make insuring yourself a heck of a lot cheaper.

The other woman's situation I'm not totally clear on:

"The state government, without reviewing her case in detail, says she should qualify for MassHealth, but she insists that she isn't eligible... When she is really sick, she goes to hospital emergency rooms for free care. She says she understands that ''there is a segment of the population that needs some coverage," but she insists she isn't part of it."

It would seem to me that it would be better if she were on MassHealth as opposed to using the Free Care Pool, because of the potential preventative benefits. By using Free Care, she's using taxpayer money anyway, and it seems that most analyses think that would be better put to expanding MassHealth. Supposedly Mitt's plan deals with getting eligible folks onto MassHealth (how?), but he seems to be saying that it won't cost anything more. I wonder how that works.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 11:41 AM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Thanks Charley. Someone's got to call the press on their stuff when they deliver free advertising and propaganda. when I first read the article I turned the page looking for more- some critical analysis. There was none.

Romney's plan is lacking on many counts. But given the importance and high profile of the health coverage issue, one should assume much more homework from the Globe.

Posted by: Michael Dechiara | Jun 29, 2005 11:22:42 PM

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